Richard E. O’Neal, Sr., departed this life on August 20, 2019, at home surrounded by his loving family. He was born in Trenton, NJ, on August 10, 1951. He was educated in the Trenton Public School System and attended Lincoln University.
Richard showcased his entrepreneurial spirit by becoming part owner of the Sahara and Oasis Steak and Take Muslim restaurants. As one of the first Black members of Ironworkers Local 68, Richard worked for over 30 years as a welder in and around the Trenton and Philadelphia areas.
He was among the first group of African Americans accepted to be a member of the E-Board, who were instrumental in voting and passing laws and making decisions in his Iron Workers Local 68 Union. He was awarded the Ushirika Fundi I Artistic Craftsmen Award in recognition of his valuable contributions and his many years of service passing his knowledge and wisdom to others. During his Iron Working Career , He was a part of and erected the Hughes Criminal Justice Complex , Trenton, NJ, St. Mary's Hospital in Pennsylvania, Numerous Six Flags Amusement thrill rides in Jackson, NJ, and last but not least Multiple Buildings in the Prestigious Princeton University including but not limited to, the Lewis Library , the Jadwin Gym, and the Stadium. In the spirit of the brotherhood of the Iron Workers, as a fellow ironworker’s heartfelt testimony, “When you're hundreds of feet off the ground, that person next to, above or below you is your lifeline. Richard knew he was not only responsible for himself and his family, but your life and in turn your family and in his protection and solid strength as your co-worker you knew you were safe. Through him we all made it down and all made it home to our families.
Richard was an avid fisherman, as well as a compound bow and rifle hunters. He enjoyed exercising with his dog Grizzly by his side. He passed his love of the outdoors down to his children and grandchildren. He spent time collecting jazz records and listening to many great jazz artists, with Miles Davis being at the top of the list. Richard was a devoted loving husband, son and an exemplary hardworking father that instilled his invaluable lessons in his children and grandchildren. His grandson Khalid performed Umrah on his behalf in the holy city of Mecca. Richard was kind and generous to anyone that crossed his path. He would not only give freely but he also never looked for anything in return. Both Richard’s infectious smile and dapper style of dress would light up any room he walked into.
He was predeceased by his father Robert O’Neal, Sr. Richard leaves to cherish his memory his wife of 48 years Deborah; three daughters Mia (Darren) Baldwin, Kai, and Hana (Ryan) Wheet. One son, Richard E. O’Neal, Jr. (Vivian O’Neal). Sixteen grandchildren. His mother Barbara E. O’Neal. Two brothers Robert O’Neal, Jr., and Bruce O’Neal. Six sisters-in-law and three brothers-in-law. A host of other relatives and friends.
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